Lists! Everyone loves ’em. And as such, we figured that with one full year of Guys Drinking Beer reviews and coverage in the books, we’d go back and take a look at the 5 beers that are still yanking our heartstrings. Beers that we wish we were still drinking at this moment, and forever and ever, amen. Beers that were just so damn good they have a permanent place of honor in our addled little brains.
We’ve drank damn near every type of beer in the past year, everything from macrobrew basics all the way to hyper-local brewery one-offs. Stouts, sours, pilsners, ales, lagers, and everything in between – if it was fermented with yeast, we got our hands on it.
Here’s my top five beers of this year, with a little bit of perspective now that they’re sadly in our rear-view mirror. For now.
5) New Belgium’s La Folie. I didn’t actually review this for the site, which is an oversight I hope to correct in the coming months. (I might actually have rated this one higher, but thought I’d defer my list to mostly beers we reviewed for the site. I couldn’t overlook this one, though.) My palate finally caught up to how awesome sour beers are this year, and the one that I couldn’t get enough of was the La Folie.
This beer hit everything I wanted a Flanders to hit – bright, tart, sour as hell, woody, medium bodied but huge and rich in flavor, and its limited release made every drop of it that much more sweet. We attended a sour beer tasting at Sheffield’s (more on them in a second) a few months ago featuring New Belgium, and when the brewer said that La Folie was one a once-in-a-lifetime brew, the cry of joy you heard from the Lakeview neighborhood was my own.
4) The Bruery’s Two Turtle Doves. This was the beer that redefined my opinion of the Bruery – as I wrote in the review, I tried to bend the rules of time and space, I liked this beer so much. Chocolate and pecan and nuts and booze and milky creamy goodness all in one asskicker of a beer.
3) Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Blend. The highlight of my year of beer events was without a doubt the Goose Island Takeover of Sheffield’s, one of our favorite craft beer bars. The highlight of that event was when the crowd began blending the BCS on tap to create magical fusions of stouty awesomeness. I had high hopes for the ancho chile / chocolate blend, but it was the coffee and cocoa nibs blend that really rang my bell.
As I wrote in my top-5-that-day recap, “The taste and texture was amazing, and the fact that it will very likely never, ever happen again pushes this to the top. Just pure decadence.” It was silky smooth, bourbony-sweet and just awesome. Good luck ever making it happen.
2) Short’s Strawberry Shortscake. This was part of our summer’s Getting Shorts-er week of coverage, and the one shining moment from all that great Short’s beer was this one. I can still smell the tart jam on the nose, I can still envision the seeds and the raw strawberry flavor, I can still taste that nice undercurrent of sweet cakey biscuity malt. Please please please let this spring and summer see a return of the Shortscake, because my accidental cellaring experiment didn’t go so well and I still feel bad about it.
1) Boulevard’s Rye-on-Rye. I spent a grand total of two seconds thinking about what was going to be my number one, and the Rye-on-Rye has got to be the one I spent the most time talking about, the most time evangelizing, the most time telling other people about (hopefully not too gloating-ly) and the one single most game-changing beer I had all year.
At the time, I wrote “It’s a marvelously complex beverage – like pouring a mixed drink with the whiskey at the bottom, the cola floating at the top and as you drink your way through the glass, the layers emerge. This beer didn’t just taste good – it was fun.”
It’s still fun thinking about it.
– – – – – – – – – – –
Honorable mention goes to Jolly Pumpkin’s Madrugada Obscura and La Parcela, New Glarus’ Enigma and Berliner Weiss, New Holland’s Mole Ocho, Stone Vertical Epics 09 and 10, Founders Devil Dancer and Dark Horse’s Off The Scale.
Thanks for a year of reading our beer-related blather, and here’s to more in the future. We’ve got crats to save and brews to review, so we’ll keep it comin’ if you keep on reading.